Playing at home, Lara Tennant leads U.S. Senior Women's Am
On Saturday Lara Tennant took another comfortable stroll at home <br>(USGA Photo)
On Saturday Lara Tennant took another comfortable stroll at home
(USGA Photo)

PORTLAND, OR (September 9, 2017) - Lara Tennant, a longtime member at host site Waverley Country Club, took advantage of her deeply rooted history at the seven-time USGA championship host course Saturday. She shot a 1-over-par 73 to grab a one-stroke lead after the first day of stroke play in the 2017 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Championship on Waverley’s 5,836-yard course.

Tennant’s husband, Bob, grew up in a house on the 12th hole at Waverley, and her father, George Mack Sr., an accomplished Oregon golfer, learned how to play at the course. Mack is caddieing for his daughter this week.

“I love this golf course, and I feel very comfortable on it,” said Tennant, a mother of five whose children range in age from 16 to 21. “I think that makes it obviously a little bit easier, however, there are still uncomfortable shots. But, I’ve been there one time or another, and I do have a feeling of comfort on this golf course. It’s home.”

Another key to Tennant’s round proved to be consistency as she carded one birdie and two bogeys, her first on No. 1.

“I hit a lot of greens, had a lot of two-putts, and got up and down a few times when I needed to,” said Tennant, 50, a former head women’s golf coach at the University of Oregon who is playing in her first U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur and first USGA championship since the 2007 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur. “Staying beneath the hole is important here. You need to know when to go for it and when not to, and you have to play strategic golf.”

Earlier this year, Tennant won two Oregon Golf Association championships – the Oregon Senior Women’s Amateur and Oregon Women’s Mid-Amateur, which she also won in 2003 and 2008.

The U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, open to female amateurs age 50 and older with a Handicap Index® not exceeding 18.4, consists of 36 holes of stroke play, with the low 64 players advancing to match play, which begins Monday. The championship, scheduled to conclude with an 18-hole final on Thursday, is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

First off the tee from No. 10, Mary Jane Hiestand, 58, carded two birdies to four bogeys to finish 2-over par 74, one stroke behind Tennant.

“I like the course a lot,” said Hiestand, the former assistant men’s golf coach at Florida Gulf Coast University who last played Waverley in 2000 during the 100th U.S. Women’s Amateur. “I gutted it out on my first nine, but putted really well overall, and hit a 15-footer to birdie [hole] 3 and then an 8-footer on [hole] 7 for another birdie. I love the greens here because I like to have to work the ball on the green – it fits my style and they are the kind of greens I learned to putt on. They’re rolling perfectly.”

Hiestand, of Naples, Fla., was glad to be paired with her good friend Julie Carmichael, who is helping her keep her mind off Hurricane Irma, which is predicted to directly impact her hometown. The two are rooming together this week and first met during the 1995 U.S. Women’s Amateur. “It’s not easy,” said Hiestand of the hurricane. “I’m thinking of my husband who is still there.”

Three players – Helene Chartrand, Angela Stewart and Caryn Wilson – were all within one stroke of the lead heading to No. 18, but both Chartrand and Wilson three-putted the finishing hole for bogey and Stewart finished her round with a double bogey.

Evelyn Orley was one of three players to return a clean card through nine holes and was even par on the outward nine before bogeying five holes, including a stretch of three in a row on holes 16-18. Kristine Franklin and Liz Waynick each made par on every hole on the inward nine to finish with a 75 and 76, respectively.

“I wish it was my home course,” said Franklin, 51, of Broomfield, Colo., a reinstated amateur who is playing in her first USGA championship. “It’s a treat to play. The greens are very challenging, and the speed is perfect.”

Defending champion Ellen Port, who is competing for the first time since winning last year’s championship at Wellesley Country Club in Wellesley Hills, Mass., bogeyed eight holes to finish 7-over 79. Port, 55, of St. Louis, Mo., has won seven USGA championships – four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateurs and three U.S. Senior Women’s Amateurs – and is one of the most decorated amateur players in USGA history.

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ABOUT THE U.S. Senior Women's Amateur

The USGA Senior Women's Amateur is open to female golfers with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 14.4, who will have reached their 50th birthday on or before the first day of the championship. It is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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